Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes - A book I Heart Emoji

I want that ring and that hair! 

I am extremely late to this party, I only just finished reading this book a month ago. My friend Marianna recommended it to me. It's been out for a long while now and a lot of people have written about adopting a ' Year of yes' into their lifestyle. Surprise...surprise I won't be, but I enjoyed this book. I hope by the time you are reading this blog post, you have atleast watched some  of her series namely Grey's Anatomy or Scandal. I know people who stay up until 4.00 am on work days just to finish her series. There was time when I crushed on all the good-looking men in Grey's Anatomy, until she killed them all off one by one 😢😢😢. I kind of expected Shonda to be an unabashed titan  like her character Cristina...

"If you want  crappy things to stop happening to you, then stop accepting crap and demand something else." ~ Christina yang, Grey's Anatomy

If  you watch Grey's Anatomy them you know that Cristina takes  no  bull' from anyone. Christina is played by the actor Sandra Oh.  The character is a no nonsense trailblazing kind of woman. Love her or hate her you can't help appreciate how she's totally altered the narrative of a women in today's working world. Cristina is hungry, hungry for success in her career as heart surgeon. She will sacrifice everything else in her life. Relationships, marriage even having babies are all things she is willing to NOT have in order to succeed. The only thing she fights for is her friendships.  Shonda once said Cristina is the one character she created that she feels closest too. In fact in her book she talks about  the importance of creating this character to encourage women to be confortable making their life choices regardless of people's expectations..  Shonda has adopted children and she has publicly said she will not get married. Some very interesting  points are made in this book and I do love Shonda's honesty.

"I have been interviewed by Oprah three times. Here is what I remember about being interviewed by Oprah, a white- hot flashing light behind my eyes. A strange numbness in my limbs. A high pitched buzzing sound in my head."

I enjoyed reading this book because it totally dismantled some of the misconceptions I have about her. Who'd have thought the Queen of TV is afraid of the Queen of  the Talk Show? Shonda is a titan but she is also shy and vulnerable. A very unique combination  that makes her human. She has worries, she has doubts about herself, and who knew that until her Year of Yes she spent most her time at home or in Shondland drumming up TV gold? The book is written in such an informal style that one almost feels like it would make a great podcast series too. I was taken aback because  I expected great prose and poetry from her I guess . I am not sure why,  I just did. It was a lovely surprise, and especially entertaining that she had to drag herself kicking and screaming through the first few months of her Year of Yes.

"I thought saying YES would feel good. I thought it would feel freeing. Like Julie Andrews spinning around on that big mountain top at the beginning of The Sound of Music."
 "I mean don't worry. I'm not going to pass out, die or poop my pants. Mainly because just by telling you it could happen, I have somehow neutralized it as an option."

It's  these lines in the book (see above)  that make this book funny. There may be moments when you find yourself cracking up out loud in the doctor's reception as you wait for your appointment.

" LESSON ONE: Ditch the Dream, Be a Doer, not a Dreamer"
I think the quote above has circulated many many times. It's one of her most famous speeches to the Dartmouth College class of 2014. It's a very educative and hilarious speech which you can  read in the book as well. She didn't start out wanting to write for TV but she took a class and that's where it all began.
"What's your goal? I want to take over the world through television. I said it jokingly. But I was not joking. I was never joking. And now its happening. On the stage at the Lincoln center with Viola Davis standing beside me."

Thank you Ms Rhimes!

photo credit: A.V club

Monday, 6 March 2017

Quiet By Susan Cain- A Book I Heart Emoji

Have you ever read a book and it just changes the way you look at the world? Have you ever read a book and it changes the way you see yourself? This was that kind of book for me. I stumbled upon it on that very first shelf  at Aristoc in Garden City  Mall, the one right near the entrance with all the 'how to be a success' books that we Ugandans love reading. Quiet is all about the introvert personality type and how we need to learn to appreciate it's strengths. So in line with the last amateur book review I did. Here are some of my favorite quotes and what I loved about the book...

"Introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation"

This totally changed the way I work. Because for the first time I could accept that as an introvert I don't enjoy brainstorming meetings unless I have had time beforehand to generate ideas alone. I personally prefer to take time to sit with a challenge and then return with solutions to the group. When this is possible, then that's what I do. This doesn't mean we should get rid of brainstorming meetings , just that we should encourage other methods of idea generation. What I found so great about this book is how Susan Cain addresses the concept that work places are built to support the 'extrovert ideal' . We now have see-through cubicles and open offices. Meetings can occur on a big open table rather than in a specific room.This is not bad thing it just means that if you have any introverts on the team they may not be comfortable and this may interfere with their work. According to Susan our  different personality types mean our brains are wired to react to stimuli differently, apparently you can identify this in the first few months of a babies' life! You need to read this book. 😏😏😏

I work better in solitude but I believe we've all been conditioned to act otherwise so I feel horribly guilty when I take that time to myself.Warren Buffet is one of the most successful leaders in the business world.There is a great example in the book of how his introverted nature has helped him succeed. A lot of great inventors. writers, artists, innovators worked and work well in solitude so I am taking a leaf from them.  Just read the quote below about children's favorite, Dr Seuss.

"Even the considerable more cheerful Theodor Geisel (otherwise known as Dr Seuss) spent his workdays ensconced in his private studio, the walls lined with sketches and drawings, in a bell tower outside his La Jolla California house. Geisel was a much more quiet man that his jocular rhymes suggest."

This book also talks about the history of glorifying certain personality types in different cultures. Not just our nationalities and ethnicity but our education culture and work culture. I was mind blown by this because for some reason it never crossed my mind how much this could affect the success of a person. I  am now pondering what personality types we appreciate more within the different  cultures in Uganda. Does it defer with gender, age or societal roles? I am curious. One of my favorite chapters in the book is called ' The Myth of Charismatic Leadership' .The insights on the pressures at Harvard's Business school were VERY interesting (see quote below)

"The school also tries to turn quiet  students into talkers. The professors have their own 'Learning Teams ', in which they egg each other on with techniques to draw out reticent students."

I think while it may not be as intensive in other levels of education. Most systems are geared to get pupils or students to be extrovert-like. Once again, this is not a bad thing only that it made me consider for the first time... why are we playing to only one personality type? If we have all this information about how babies grow and develop, why not try a few new things? Like not marking the quiet shy  smart pupils low in the end of the year school report just because they did not put their hand up in class often.

"If personal space is vital to creativity, so is freedom from 'peer pressure'."
The pressure to fit-in is there throughout life. If you are lucky you start to not always seek everyone's approval as you get older. But in your school years especially when you hit puberty it is ALL about NOT standing out. So how does one create a world for children that supports these challenges as per the personality types? I don't know, but Susan's book brings up a lot of those questions for us. Even some great ones about parenting.

"If there is only one insight you take away from this book, though, I hope it's a newfound sense of entitlement to be yourself. I can vouch personally for the life-transforming effects of this outlook. Remember that  first client I told you about, the one called Laura in order to protect her identity? That was a story about me. I was my own first client."

I recommend this book to anyone and everyone, but mostly introverts. It's a great educative insightful read!

Thanks Ms. Cain

P.S: Check out the Quiet Revolution website here

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Lost & Found by Sarah Jakes - A Book I Heart Emoji

Books - Book Review - Happily Flawed

I randomly stumbled on her old blog posts and some You tube videos two years ago. I love a good story about the struggle of life. So naturally when I discovered a copy of the book at Aristoc I bought it. I was not disappointed.  The lady can write!! It is HER voice. She sat down and put her OWN pen to paper, I snift no ghost writers while I was reading. I am not an expert book reviewer so instead  I'll share some of my favorite quotes from the book and what I learnt from reading it.

"At a young age I learned that people smile big, hug tight and then go home and drown in their tears. I learned that sometimes you go to church to be healed, but if you aren't careful, people's approval can become more important than the message."
I appreciate the honesty of this statement. I mean I don't think Sarah's the only Christian who feels like this. I think that this is one of the reasons she stumbled so many times a long the way. The teenage and quarter-life reflections she writes about in the book gives the reader so many 'food for the soul ' moments. Some days I had to stop to take time to internalize the wisdom. Her voice was so refreshing for me because it was authentic and insightful, definitely not the ordinary cookie cutter preacher's kid book. She may have felt she was alone but many young people struggle with their path and their faith.💜💜💜

"Our insecurities create holes inside us that make us believe we can't be used."
We make mistakes as humans, and some of us punish ourselves for what can seem like an eternity. Given Sarah's background, most people may be a little  stunned at her life story. She's a pastor's daughter, and not just anyone's but Bishop T.D Jakes! She found herself pregnant at thirteen.  I guess many people had written her off but all these experiences helped make her who she is today. For one , It helped her write this great book. (I promise you this girl can write! 😁😁😁)

"You can't ask directions from people who are lost themselves"
The quote above speaks for it self...🙌🙌🙌

"So often we look for Him to calm the storms of our lives . But there are times when the storm can't go away because we need the rain." 
Sometimes our worst moments bring out the best in us. I hate typing that sentence because it is hard to always see the bigger picture. But I can honestly say some very challenging moments changed me for the better.  Sarah gives us the impression through her book that her life at one point consisted of her walking from one bad decision into another. I think Sarah just draws this point out effortlessly in her writing. She doesn't' make her relationship with God perfect. She struggles to find purpose like everyone else. She eventually has to take responsibility for her messes and clean them them up one by one. Near the end of the book we see her ' Come to Jesus' moment manifesting in her making better decisions for herself and her children. If you follow her on social media you'll see she is using her experience for the good of others. I enjoy watching her preaching sessions every now and them. Once again her style is her own not like father's or her mother's. she knows who she is.

"I am convinced how you handle a set back  will determine the strength of your come back." 
And we know this life will throw things at us that we never dreamed of, good and bad. But I totally agree with this statement. How we handle the challenges will not only determine how we come back but who we are. I can't tell people I am a grown up if I don't display maturity in my actions.In the book  Sarah has to accept that her marriage has failed and start healing herself. Not easy with so much pressure around her to get it right all the time.

I  loved reading this book. As I mentioned throughout the post ,  I was so surprised and how well Sarah Jakes Roberts can string her words together. Her storytelling is almost poetic for me. The vulnerability in telling her story is the cherry on the cake because it makes it all so very real. No superficiality here.  I can't lend this book out because I have underlined almost every sentence.😄😄😄 I think she says the things most of us think but are afraid to say when we discuss faith.

That said I recommend this book to anyone  who may be struggling with their faith.

Thank you Mrs Roberts!

Have you read any good books about faith lately? Comment below.